Ten horses under consideration for the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) worked toward next Saturday’s race on seven fronts Saturday morning.
Working at Churchill Downs were Keen Ice and Tencendur. International Star worked at the Trackside training center, Carpe Diem worked at Keeneland, Frosted and Upstart worked at Palm Meadows in Florida, Mubtaahij (IRE) worked at Arlington, El Kabeir worked at Belmont Park and Dortmund and Firing Line worked at Santa Anita.
Probable morning-line Derby favorite American Pharoah is scheduled to work at Churchill Downs Sunday morning.
Two contenders for the $1 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) worked Saturday at Churchill Downs: Birdatthewire, and Include Betty. Scheduled to work Sunday here are Puca, I’m a Chatterbox and Lovely Maria.
Three Kentucky Derby hopefuls are scheduled to arrive Sunday from Southern California. Dortmund, Firing Line and Bolo are scheduled to arrive in Louisville between 11:30 a.m. and noon. On the same flight will be Kentucky Oaks hopeful Stellar Wind.
KENTUCKY DERBY NOTES
AMERICAN PHAROAH/DORTMUND – Kaleem Shah’s unbeaten colt Dortmund breezed six furlongs in a controlled 1:13.60 Saturday morning at Santa Anita Park. Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert did not want a repeat of last week’s quick five-furlong work and guided jockey Martin Garcia through the breeze by walkie talkie. The big colt responded and followed instructions. “:Went well,” Baffert said. “He cruised today.”
Dortmund, a son of 2008 Derby winner Big Brown, picked up his sixth victory in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 4. He is scheduled to ship to Kentucky on Sunday. Shortly after Dortmund completed his work, Baffert caught a flight to Louisville. His other Derby contender, American Pharoah is scheduled to breeze Sunday morning at Churchill Downs, but the work could be moved to Monday if the track isn’t “fast.”
With rain in the Louisville forecast, assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes called an audible Saturday morning and sent Zayat Stables’ American Pharoah to the track at 5:45 rather than wait for the time reserved for Derby and Oaks horses at 8:30. The Arkansas Derby (GI) winner galloped 1 ½ miles for exercise rider Jorge Alvarez. “The track was perfect. The weather was good,” Barnes said. “I’d rather just get him out on a good race track and be done with it.”
BOLD CONQUEST – The Ackerley Brothers Farm's Bold Conquest galloped a mile and a half Saturday morning after the renovation break. Trainer Steve Asmussen, who was on route to Louisville, said the colt is scheduled to work Monday, probably in company.
BOLO – Golden Pegasus Racing and Earle Mack’s Bolo was doing quite well Saturday morning at his Santa Anita headquarters according to trainer Carla Gaines. The Kentucky-bred colt by the Dynaformer stallion Temple City had put in his final major drill for his impending date in the Kentucky Derby the previous day at the Southern California track. The Golden State’s top rider, Rafael Bejarano, was up for the exercise, which was accomplished in:59.60. The Peruvian reinsman will be aboard for the Derby 141 run.
Bolo will be part of a planeload of California horses headed to Louisville Sunday with an arrival time of 11:45 a.m. scheduled. Also headed to Kentucky Sunday are the colt’s groom, Daniel Marquez, and exercise rider, Tony Rubalcaba. Gaines will do her flying Monday.
CARPE DIEM/ITSAKNOCKOUT/MATERIALITY/STANFORD – Trainer Todd Pletcher started his Saturday very early and with two major goals in mind: take care of business at Keeneland, then do more of same at Churchill Downs. He accomplished both nicely with a car dash in between.
The morning’s heavy lifting began at 5:30 with his Giant’s Causeway colt Carpe Diem going through a four-furlong drill in :48.60 that the conditioner called “very pleasing.”
With Hall of Fame rider John Velazquez aboard, Carpe Diem opened up with splits of :13 and :25 en route to his official time, then galloped out nicely in 1:01.20, 1:14.80 and 1:29.40.
"Johnny was very happy with it,” Pletcher said upon return to his Churchill barn. “And I saw what I wanted to see. He’s really doing well. He likes Keeneland; likes the track and the routine we have him in over there. That’s a big part of why we’ve kept him there. We were concerned about the weather and their track handles the rain and drains so well. There’s some comfort in that.”
A major storm was predicted to soak both Louisville and Lexington Saturday morning, but for the most part the precipitation stayed clear of the two cities and their racetracks. More rain was forecast for Saturday afternoon and into the evening, however, when Churchill will kick off its 38-day Spring Meet with an 11-race program at 6 o’clock.
Velazquez, who will ride Carpe Diem for WinStar Farm and Stonestreet Stable in Kentucky Derby 141 next Saturday, said at Keeneland that “We took it little by little in the first part of the work and then finished up really good.”
Carpe Diem has won four of five starts and more than $1.5 million in purses. His most recent effort was a “drawing away” tally in the Blue Grass (GI) at Keeneland on April 4. His trainer indicated that he’d likely give the chestnut another day in Lexington, then ship him to Churchill Monday. The seven-time Eclipse Award winner currently has 16 runners at Churchill and twice that number at Keeneland.
Pletcher made the 75-mile trip from Lexington to Louisville – logging some phone calls and getting in some ESPN radio along the way – in time to see his three other Derby colts go through a jog during the 8:30 to 8:45 special training window Churchill has put in place for Derby and Kentucky Oaks horses.
The trio – Starlight Racing’s Itsaknockout, Alto Racing’s Materiality and Stonestreet Stables, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Stanford – had each worked the day prior, so they merely jogged a mile, backtracking all the way around the big Churchill oval. Itsaknockout had Ezequiel Perez in the tack, Materiality was handled by Carlos Cano and Stanford went for Isabelle Bourez.
Of the three, Florida Derby winner Materiality came off the track “on the muscle,” as racetrackers say of a horse who is full of himself and showing it.
“He’s normally a quiet colt, but sometimes he’ll tip you that he’s feeling good,” Pletcher said. “He’s telling us that he came out of that work yesterday very well.”
The lightly raced son of Afleet Alex will be making only the fourth start of his career next Saturday and he’ll have Javier Castellano aboard for the first time.
Itsaknockout, a Lemon Drop Kid colt, will have the Derby services of Luis Saez, while Stanford, a bay by the A.P. Indy stallion Malibu Moon, has not had a rider named to this point, though Florent Geroux rode him in his most recent start – a second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (GII) – and may have the inside track on the mount next week.
Pletcher indicated that he’d wait to see what the track was like tomorrow morning before making his next move with his three colts. If the heavy rains that are predicted come and the track is on the “off,” he indicated that the trio might just walk the shedrow. But if the main surface is in good shape, they could return to galloping.
DANZIG MOON – John Oxley’s Danzig Moon walked the shedrow a day after work a half-mile in :48.80 under Derby rider Julien Leparoux.
Norman Casse, assistant to his father trainer Mark Casse, had opted to work Danzig Moon under clear skies Friday rather than take a chance on a dicey Saturday forecast.
“If we had waited, it would have been a monsoon,” Casse said with a laugh under a light drizzle that did not turn into a deluge until 9:30. “At least we got it out of the way.”
Casse said Danzig Moon would return to the track Sunday morning.
EL KABEIR – Trainer John Terranova said that El Kabeir handled the arrival of an unexpected workmate during his half-mile breeze in :46.80 under Simon Harris Saturday morning at Belmont Park. “Everything went great,” Terranova said. “He accidently hooked up with another horse. A filly broke off at the same time and ran up inside of him. It was fine. Simon just sat quiet.” The Zayat Stables colt turned in identical quarter mile splits of :23.60 in his final timed work for the 141st Kentucky Derby.
“He looked great,” Terranova said. “He did it very easily. He’s looks great. He’s very sharp. We’re ready.”
Terranova said that his goal was to have a good work with no surprises or problems. In the end, everything was fine. “The only unanticipated thing was the company that we hooked, but it was no problem,” Terranova said. “Simon knows him well and he did what he was supposed to do anyway regardless. He was well in hand and Simon had him there. As usual, when he feels some company he’s very competitive and on the bridle, but he’s like that if you work him solo or not. It was fine. No concerns as far as that goes. It was really nice.”
El Kabeir will ship by van from New York Sunday evening and is expected to at Churchill Downs Monday morning. Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel, a three-time Derby winner, will ride the colt.
FAR RIGHT – “Everything is good in the ‘hood,’” trainer Ron Moquett said Saturday morning, a day after his Kentucky Derby hopeful Far Right worked a half-mile in :49.
Owned by Harry Rosenblum and Robert LaPenta, Far Right is scheduled to return to the track Sunday morning. Mike Smith has the Derby mount.
FIRING LINE – Arnold Zetcher’s Firing Line went through a designed “easy work” Saturday morning at Santa Anita, one that trainer Simon Callaghan termed “great.” The bay son of the young stallion Line of David went off at 6:30 with Hall of Fame rider Gary Stevens – who’ll also ride him in the Kentucky Derby – in the saddle and skipped through five furlongs in 1:02.20.
Just what we wanted for him,” the transplanted Englishman said by phone from his Santa Anita barn. “He’s shipping tomorrow – he’ll be on a plane at 1 a.m. – and we didn’t want to do too much with him. Gary liked the move very much. We just stretched his legs a little bit. He’s very fit; very ready to do what he has to do.”
Callaghan noted that the colt’s exercise rider, Humberto Gomez, and his assistant trainer, Carlos Santamaria, would be on a red-eye out of Los Angeles in order to meet Firing Line in Kentucky. The trainer planned to fly to Louisville on Tuesday.
Firing Line’s flight will have several other notable horses on board, including likely Kentucky Derby starters Dortmund and Bolo.
FRAMMENTO – Mossarosa’s Frammento walked the shedrow at Keeneland a day after working a half-mile in company with the 3-year-old maiden Heliodoro.
“He’s very good this morning; came out of the work well,” two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Nick Zito said. “I am glad we worked yesterday because it started raining here about 7:20 and it was a cold rain.”
Frammento needs one defection from horses under consideration for Derby 141 by entry time Wednesday to make it into the gate.
“I don’t want to be on the also-eligibles,” Zito said. “He’s a true mile and a quarter horse and I hope he can get in.”
FROSTED – Godolphin’s Wood Memorial (GI) winner Frosted breezed five furlongs in 1:01 Saturday morning at the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida. Rob Massey was up for the work and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin liked what he saw. “He worked great,” McLaughlin said. “He went off in :13 and basically went :12, :12, :12,:12 and galloped out well. All systems are go. We’re very happy with the work.”
McLaughlin’s original plan was to work the colt on Friday, but he decided to wait a day and not have to use a wet track. “We pushed it back today and we’re happy we did,” McLaughlin said. “We had a perfect racetrack. We were looking for a maintenance work of 1:01. We’re ready to go.”
INTERNATIONAL STAR – Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Louisiana Derby (GII) winner and Road to the Kentucky Derby points leader (171) International Star recorded his final serious work in advance of Kentucky Derby 141 early Saturday morning – officially a half-mile in :50.80 with regular jockey Miguel Mena up – at trainer Mike Maker’s preferred local base, the nearby Trackside training center. The work came in company with Nominative, a quality 4-year-old allowance filly also owned by Ramsey, who recorded an identical time.
“We were out trying to beat the rain,” Maker said of the 6 a.m. move. “It was a simple maintenance work and everything went well. He was well within himself. He’s fit by now. We’re not going to do anything in the last seven days that might put him ‘over the top.’ We’re ready to go.”
Trackside clockers recorded splits of :13, :25.20 and :37.60 with a five-furlong gallop-out time of 1:06.20. Ken Ramsey reported that the work was intended as a five-furlong move, with an additional eighth past the wire and around the first turn of the Trackside “bullring” (a six-furlong oval). Ramsey, who was not present for the work but was in regular contact with Maker throughout the morning, relayed a final time of 1:02.40 with splits of :13, :25.40, :37.80 and :50.40. “The time doesn’t sound spectacular but Mike was pleased and if he’s pleased then I’m pleased,” Ramsey said. “I leave the training up to him.”
By mid-morning International Star was relaxing in a hydrotherapy spa that Ramsey installed at Trackside just for his top 3-year-old. The water is kept between 33 and 35 degrees and includes a salt solution that helps to minimize heat and inflammation. “He had it in Florida and loved it,” Ramsey said. “When he first got to Trackside, after a few days Mike said he was doing fine but he was missing his cold water spa. So I said, well, good grief, we have to get one up there! It took a week to get permission to put one in but we got his spa and last I heard this morning he was in it and enjoying it. I’m doing all I can to win that Derby!”
Maker said International Star will van to Churchill Downs Monday or Tuesday.
KEEN ICE – Donegal Racing's Keen Ice worked five furlongs Saturday morning in 1:01.60 under exercise rider Tammy Fox. The workout was the 15th fastest of 67 workouts at the distance.
“We just wanted him to do whatever he wanted to do on his own,”' trainer Dale Romans said. “He’s not a real fast work horse by himself. So we didn’t want to put any company with him. We let him do his own thing. He had two really fast drills, got some long miles in him here. The heavy lifting is over.”
Keen Ice’s fractions were :11.80, :24, :36, :48.60 and out six furlongs in 1:15.60.
“He was smooth doing everything,” Romans said. “You saw what a beautiful stride he has. He swept to his right lead turning for home perfect. I told her, just smooch to him leaving there, just let him do whatever he wants. It ended up being just right.”
Keen Ice, whose only victory in seven starts came in a maiden race last year at Churchill Downs, is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (GII).
MR. Z – Because of the threat of rain, trainer D. Wayne Lukas decided not to wait for the training period reserved for Derby and Oaks horses after the renovation break and instead took Mr. Z to the track soon after it opened. With exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard, Mr. Z galloped in a manner that pleased Lukas.
“He’s handling the track well, very well,” Lukas said. “His energy is really good. So I’m pleased where I’m at with him. He obviously has to improve. I’m comfortable where he’s at right now.”
After finishing last in the Louisiana Derby (GII), more than 20 lengths behind winner International Star, Mr. Z. was third in the Arkansas Derby (GI), 8 3/4 lengths behind winner American Pharoah. Lukas called the Louisiana Derby “a debacle” for Mr. Z.
“We tried a bunch of stuff, took the blinkers off, changed up the rider, did a number of things,” Lukas said. “And I don't think he cared for the track either, as it turned out. ... He’s back to his old form and rebounded well in Arkansas.”
MUBTAAHIJ – Mubtaahij (IRE) breezed yet again over the Arlington Polytrack on an unseasonably cool morning in the Chicago suburbs. The work was missed by clockers on course, with the circuit’s main clocking crew at Hawthorne, still. Trainer Mike de Kock employs Fine Equinity, a GPS-based training management tracking system, to record morning work times, heart rates, and more. Their system recorded Mubtaahij working four furlongs in 49.70 seconds, with a final three furlongs in :35.30. The last quarter of the work was timed in equal splits of 11.50 seconds, home in 23 flat.
“I was very happy with both pieces of work,” assistant trainer Trevor Brown said, also alluding to Woodford Reserve Turf Classic (GI) hopeful and stablemate Umgiyo. “They had a good blow out and were a bit more intense than on Tuesday. They seemed to come out of it in good order and got right into their food mangers afterward.”
De Kock, with a phalanx of runners at Turffontein Racecourse on Saturday, the richest day in South African racing, pushed his flights back a day and will arrive in Louisville on Monday morning. “We had too many runners in big races today and it would have been much too rushed,” de Kock said from Johannesburg. He was rewarded with two Grade I wins, a Grade I second, and a Grade II victory on the lucrative program. “I’m really looking forward to getting to Louisville now.”
OCHO OCHO OCHO – DP Racing LLC’s Delta Jackpot (GIII) winner Ocho Ocho Ocho tested the Churchill Downs surface for the first time Saturday, galloping an easy 1 1/2 miles following the renovation break under Matt Williams, exercise rider and assistant to trainer Jim Cassidy.
“We just wanted to stretch his legs out, kind of get him out and let him see everything,” Williams said. “He traveled good yesterday, ate up good last night. He’s a pretty good traveler so that’s the usual for him. He seems to have settled into the barn.”
Williams, who hails from Ogden, Utah, and has worked for Cassidy “about a year,” also traveled with Ocho Ocho Ocho for the Blue Grass (GI) three weeks ago. “The Keeneland race was a big improvement,” he said. “The first race (eighth in the GII San Felipe at Santa Anita) was a disappointment – he got bumped around at the gate and had traffic trouble and didn’t get much out of it. The Keeneland race was a lot better. We got what we needed and he got a good race out of it.” Cassidy will arrive at Churchill Downs on Monday and is still considering one more work for Ocho Ocho Ocho early in the week.
TENCENDUR – Philip Birsh’s Wood Memorial (GI) runner-up Tencendur worked a bullet five furlongs in 1:00 shortly after the main track at Churchill Downs opened for training Saturday morning.
Working in company with the 4-year-old allowance winner Wake Up in Malibu, Tencendur posted fractions of :11.60, :23.40, :35.20, :47.40 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.40. The move was the best of 67 at the distance.
“I wanted them to go in a minute and they did,” trainer George Weaver said. “He galloped out well and cooled out quick and he was dragging me around the barn wanting to play.”
Manny Franco, who rode Tencendur to a maiden win the only time he has ridden him, will have the Derby mount and was aboard for the work this morning. Joe Bravo was on Wake Up in Malibu.
Weaver initially was going to work at 8:30 but opted to go when the track opened.
“It might be OK at 8:30, but why take a chance,” Weaver said. “He will probably jog tomorrow, just some light exercise to see how he came out of the work.”
The morning work was the first for the 20-year-old Franco at Churchill Downs.
“My first time here,” said Franco, who left later in the morning to return to New York and ride at Aqueduct before returning here Friday. “He worked well. The first time I rode him in thought he was talented, very talented.”
Weaver said that Tencendur would have some paddock and gate schooling prior to the Derby.
“He has not had any issues,” Weaver said. “But with Derby Day, it can affect even the calmest horses.”
UPSTART – Ralph Evans’ New York-bred colt Upstart wrapped up the Florida portion of his preparations with a five-furlong breeze in company in 1:00.23 Saturday at the Palm Meadows Training Center. Trainer Rick Violette said Upstart, under rider Vicki King, responded when asked and put in an enthusiastic work.
“It was a typical Upstart work,” Violette said. “It looked like he was going :50 and change and it was :47 or :48. He galloped out great; didn’t want to pull up. He could have gone faster or slower. He’s pretty much push-button. We had the walkie-talkie on Vicki and I told her not to let him gallop out, that he had done enough. We didn’t have to do much, but he does run well off a quick last breeze. He’s shown that the runs well off a snappy breeze and that’s what we gave him.” Upstart will ship from Florida to Louisville on Tuesday. Jose Ortiz has the mount in the Derby.
WAR STORY – Trainer Tom Amoss called an audible with War Story, sending him to the track at 5:45 for an activity that included a paddock schooling session followed by a 1 ½-mile gallop under exercise rider Marvin Orantes.
“You never know what it’s going to be like at 8:30,” Amoss said of the planned time to go to the track. “It could be lightning and thunder, so why take the chance.”
Owned by Loooch Racing Stables, Glenn Ellis and Christopher Dunn, War Story will be ridden in the Derby by Joe Talamo, who was aboard for the first time in a third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby (GII).
Amoss said War Story would return to the 8:30 training window reserved for Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls Sunday. “He will jog a mile and gallop a mile and a half, which is his usual. He will probably go to the gate Tuesday and have one more paddock session in the afternoon.”
KENTUCKY OAKS NOTES
ANGELA RENEE/ESKENFORMONEY – Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Oaks fillies returned to the racetrack Saturday morning for one-mile jogs, or “once arounds,” as the conditioner’s assistant – the Irishman Dermot Magnier from Limerick – called them.
Angela Renee, a daughter of Bernardini, was out with the stable’s first set at 5:45 with Carlos Cano in the irons. She accomplished her leg stretching in easy fashion following her :47.80 drill the previous morning at Churchill.
Eskenformoney, who is by the Giant’s Causeway stallion Eskendereya, went out at 6:20 with exercise rider Ezequiel Perez at the controls. She, too, had an easy jog after having worked Friday in :48.40.
Hall of Famer John Velazquez will ride Angela Renee in the $1 million Oaks. He has handled her in six of her eight previous starts. Javier Castellano has the call on Eskenformoney, which will be the fifth time he has been on her back in what will be her 10th start.
BIRDATTHEWIRE – Forum Racing’s Birdatthewire completed her serious training for the Kentucky Oaks with a five-furlong workout Saturday morning in 1:01.20 under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar.
“She always works good,” trainer Dale Romans said. “She looked like here normal self. We kept her a little off the rail to try to keep her slowed down a little bit, and it looked like she did everything right.”
The workout was the seventh fastest of 67 workouts Saturday at the distance. Birdatthewire’s fractions were :12.40, :24.40, :36.20, :48.40, and out six furlongs in 1:14.40 and seven furlongs in 1:28.80.
Birdatthewire has won two of three starts this year, the victories coming in the Forward Gal (GII) and Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII) at Gulfstream Park. She broke her maiden in her fourth start as a 2-year-old, winning a mile-and-a-sixteenth race at Churchill Downs.
CONDO COMMANDO – Saturday was a rest and recovery day for the filly owned by Michael Dubb, Bethlehem Stables and The Elkstone Group. Condo Commando breezed in the early morning sunshine Friday and walked the shedrow Saturday on the cool, wet morning.
Trainer Rudy Rodriguez said that it looked like Condo Commando was just fine some 24 hours after covering five furlongs in 1:00.40. He said she will return to the track for exercise Sunday morning.
Condo Commando has won five of six career starts, all in New York. In her most recent outing, she won the Gazelle (GII) by 2 ½ lengths under Joel Rosario, who will be aboard in the Oaks.
FOREVER UNBRIDLED – The day after working five furlongs in 1:01, Charles Fipke's Forever Unbridled walked the shedrow Saturday morning in the barn of trainer Dallas Stewart.
I’M A CHATTERBOX/LOVELY MARIA – Trainer Larry Jones, already a two-time winner of the Kentucky Oaks with Proud Spell (2008) and Believe You Can (2012), is back at Churchill Downs with two of the top threats for this year’s garland of lilies – Brereton Jones’ Ashland Stakes (GI) winner Lovely Maria and Grayson Farm’s Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) heroine I’m a Chatterbox. After arriving from Keeneland by van late Friday afternoon, the pair tested the local surface for the first time this season Saturday morning, galloping 1 1/2 miles each, in succession, after the renovation break.
Larry Jones, who doesn’t typically gallop either filly but left most of his help at Keeneland to tend to the rest of the stable, was aboard for both gallops. Lovely Maria came to the track first at 8:30 a.m. to get her exercise in before Jones hustled her back to Barn 43 so he could bring I’m a Chatterbox out for the same routine before the track was reopened to all horses.
“I had to get in two for everyone else’s one,” Jones said. “I do not gallop these horses every day. This is only the second day I’ve ever sat on Lovely Maria and the other filly I’ve only galloped her about four times now.”
Most mornings Jones can be seen on the track all morning long jogging and galloping his horses, though which ones he climbs aboard himself depends mostly on their individual needs.
“It seems like I get the knuckleheads,” Jones said. “The ones that really want to be strong and play around, seems like I get on them a lot. Once I find a rider that really suits a horse, like Jorge [Nava] on Lovely Maria – he loves her and she loves him – don’t change it. When that happens I just leave them alone.”
Jones raved about the condition of the Churchill Downs racing surface, which absorbed steady showers most of the morning.
“I’ve been coming here since 1982 and I thought this morning was the best I’ve ever galloped over this track,” Jones said. “It was the most even, not a tractor rut, not a dip. I never felt anything but solid track so, hallelujah, it looks like they’ve got it right.”
I’m a Chatterbox and Lovely Maria will breeze Sunday after the renovation break at the same time, but not in company, with jockeys Kerwin Clark (Lovely Maria) and Florent Geroux (I’m a Chatterbox). “They’ll be maybe 100 yards apart,” Jones said. “We’re going to be the first hoofprints around that track, I hope.”
Woody Stephens holds the record for most Oaks winners by a trainer with five.
INCLUDE BETTY – Brereton Jones and Timothy Thornton’s Fantasy Stakes (GIII) winner Include Betty came to the track at about 6:30 a.m. for a five-furlong breeze in 1:02.20 under regular exercise rider Leo Garcia. Churchill Downs clockers recorded splits of :25.80 and :38 for the Tom Proctor trainee, as well as a six-furlong gallop-out time of 1:18.
“It was exactly what we wanted,” said Thornton, co-owner of the filly and general manager at Airdrie Stud, the Midway, Ky., operation owned by former Kentucky governor Jones and his wife Elizabeth. “She’s not a real fast workhorse in the first place. It was just the final tune-up to wake her up and let her know that it’s almost race time.”
Include Betty was overlooked by bettors in the Fantasy coming off a fifth-place finish in the Florida Oaks (GIII) at Tampa Bay Downs. That race, however, didn’t have the kind of strong pace that best suits the Include filly’s late-running style. The sub-48-second half-mile of the Fantasy is more along the lines of what she needs to catch the early leaders, as she demonstrated by making up more than 10 lengths in the final five-eighths for a last-to-first victory.
“We’re excited about that long stretch at Churchill,” Thornton said. “We’re hoping there’ll be some pace in there and it looks like there will be. She won’t even be on the screen the first part of it. She’s a filly you can’t rush. She just wants to lope behind but then once she decides to run she really likes to go.”
Rosemary Homeister Jr., who has been aboard Include Betty for every start of 2015 dating back to her maiden-breaker at Tampa on Jan. 3, has the call in the Kentucky Oaks. “She rode a hell of a race for us in the Fantasy and we’re just hoping for her to do the same thing again in the Oaks,” Thornton said.
LUMINANCE/MAYBELLENE – Both of trainer Bob Baffert’s Oaks fillies galloped 1 ½ miles under exercise rider Jorge Alvarez Saturday morning. Assistant trainer Jimmy Barnes said that Baffert will travel to Louisville Saturday and will decide when each of the fillies will have a final work for the Oaks. Luminance, owned by Kaleem Shah, was second in the Santa Anita Oaks (GI). Jill Baffert’s Maybellene has made 10 starts in her career. She was placed first by the disqualification of Callback in the Sunland Park Oaks on March 22.
OCEANWAVE – Gary and Mary West’s Fantasy Stakes (GIII) runner-up Oceanwave walked the shedrow one day after her final timed work in advance of the Oaks, a five-furlong maintenance breeze in 1:02.
"She licked the feed tub and looks great,” trainer Wayne Catalano said. “She came out of the work good. All week long she’s galloped like the best filly out there.” Oceanwave will return to the track Sunday for an easy jog after the maintenance break.
PUCA – Donegal Racing’s Puca galloped 1 ½ miles after the renovation break with exercise rider Jo Lawson up. “I was planning to work her sometime this weekend and I just opted to wait a day,” trainer Bill Mott said. “If the track is not good in the morning, we can wait until Monday. I thought she got around there pretty good this morning.” Junior Alvarado has the mount in the Oaks.
SARAH SIS – Joe Ragsdale’s Sarah Sis walked the shedrow a day after working five furlongs in 1:02.60 for trainer Ingrid Mason. “She’s good this morning and will go back to the track in the morning,” said Mason, who has shipped horses into Churchill Downs before but never stabled here on a regular basis. Gary Stevens has the Oaks mount.
SHOOK UP – Regis Racing's Shook Up aggressively galloped two miles under exercise rider Mike Callaham in the second set after the track opened early Saturday morning. Trainer Steve Asmussen said Shook Up will run her final pre-Oaks workout Sunday morning. She’s coming off a runner-up finish in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII).
STELLAR WIND – Hronis Racing’s dominant Santa Anita Oaks (GI) winner Stellar Wind walked the shedrow at John Sadler’s Santa Anita barn and was in good order a day after working six furlongs in 1:12.80, the trainer relayed via text message.
Stellar Wind will depart for Kentucky early Sunday morning aboard an H.E. Tex Sutton charter flight. Sadler will arrive in Louisville on Monday and be on track Tuesday.
UPCOMING UNDERCARD STAKES PROBABLES
The following is an early rundown of known possible starters in Derby Week stakes races, according to assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator Dan Bork:
$400,000 ALYSHEBA (GII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Call Me George, Honor Code, Noble Bird, Ride On Curlin. Possible: Den’s Legacy.
$300,000 LA TROIENNE (GI) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – America, Frivolous, Molly Morgan, My Miss Sophia, Pearl Turn, Sheer Drama, Stopchargingmaria, Wedding Toast. Possible: Interest Free, Tiz Windy.
$200,000 EIGHT BELLES (GIII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Ekati’s Phaeton, Fancy and Flashy, Lavender Chrissie, Mizz Money, Promise Me Silver, Streetheart, Super Saks, Taylor S.
$150,000 EDGEWOOD PRESENTED BY FORCHT BANK (GIII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Lady Zuzu, Pangburn, Quality Rocks. Possible: B Rockett, Sweet Opportunity, Whimsicality.
$150,000 TWIN SPIRES TURF SPRINT (GIII) (Entries taken April 28; race May 1) – Berlino Di Tiger (BRZ), Buster Rose, Channel Marker, Good Deed, Heitai, Positive Side, Power Alert (AUS), Something Extra, Undrafted.
$500,000 WOODFORD RESERVE TURF CLASSIC (GI) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Chocolate Ride, Finnegans Wake, Seek Again, Umgiyo (AUS).
$500,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS (GII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Bayern, C. Zee, Pants On Fire, Private Zone. Possible: The Big Beast.
$300,000 CHURCHILL DOWNS DISTAFF TURF MILE PRESENTED BY LONGINES (GII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Coffee Clique, I’m Already Sexy, Lady Lara (IRE), Maid On a Mission, Personal Diary, Sandiva (IRE), Solid Appeal, Strike Charmer, Tepin.
$300,000 HUMANA DISTAFF (GI) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – Classic Point, Dame Dorothy, Judy the Beauty, Princess Violet, Sweet Reason, Sweet Whiskey, You Bought Her. Possible: Clearly Confused.
$250,000 AMERICAN TURF PRESENTED BY RAM TRUCKS (GII) (Entries taken April 29; race May 2) – A Lot, Conquest Typhoon, Firespike, Force the Pass, Indianaughty, Metaboss, Tuba, Wireless Future, World Approval. Possible: Royal Son.